June 17, 2024

Simply having a guest bedroom in your home can be somewhat of an accomplishment. Many of us go through years of making our guests sleep on the sofa or forfeiting our own beds to our visitors before we can offer them a room of their own. So, when you are able to offer guests the luxury of their own bedroom, the space should feel like exactly that—luxurious. That means not only providing a comfortable bed to sleep in behind a closed door, but also designing the room to show that time, effort, and intention went into it.

To make your guests feel like a priority, not an afterthought, use these design expert-approved tips to create a cozy guest bedroom that is so much more than just a spare.

Add a small seating area

If you have a bit of extra room to work with in your guest bedroom, adding some extra seating can make a big difference. “The most important thing to creating a ‘home away from home’ and ‘home away from host’ vibe, is to provide a small seating area,” Devin Shaffer, lead interior designer at Decorilla says. “That way your guests have a sense of ownership to their room and don’t question if they’re intruding on your space by staying in the common areas.”

Use bold colors and patterns

Getty Images

Your guest bedroom is for your guests, but it’s going to be in your home all the time, so you might as well design it in a way that makes you happy. Think of the additional room as an extra opportunity to take design risks, whether that means painting the room a bright color, adding bold patterns, or using the space to incorporate unique decor items you’ve gotten while traveling. Sure, the end result might not fit each of your guest’s styles, but it will create a fun and memorable stay. “Make your guests feel like they are on vacation,” says Corban De La Vega, chief marketing officer at DecorMatters.

Purchase high-quality bedding

No matter what design route you take, De La Vega also emphasizes the importance of making the room restful. “When people are visiting, they are often on vacation and traveling and sightseeing,” he says. “This means they may spend the day out exploring, making coming back home to a cozy and calm bedroom all the more important.” So, invest in hotel-quality bedding and don’t skimp on the extra pillows.

Add plants or fresh flowers

One of the easiest ways to make a space feel more lively is to add things that are, well, living. “When you have guests visiting, make sure you remember to place some fresh flowers and plants within the room to boost the environment and help your visitors feel connected with the outdoors,” De La Vega says. Whether you keep the plants there year-round or just bring them in when guests come, it’s a thoughtful touch to add to your visitor’s stay.

Provide practical bedside tables


When designing a room that you won’t actually be living out of, it’s easy to forget some of those small practical details. “Besides being attractive, I believe a guest bedroom should be functional for your guest by providing them with enough surfaces and storage, as transient as the nature of their visit might be,” says interior designer Jonathan Rachman. Functional bedside tables can play a big role in allowing your guest to settle in and get comfortable, giving them a place to keep a glass of water, set down a book or their phone, and turn on a lamp at night. Bonus points if you keep a phone charger at the ready for forgetful guests.

Layer in blankets and cozy throws

Getty Images

It can be awkward as a guest to ask your host to turn down the AC or crank up the heat. So, making sure that a guest bedroom is stocked with cozy blankets is a great way to ensure your guests are always comfortable. “These details say that not only do you welcome them, but you have thought out every single detail prior to their arrival to make them feel they are at their home away from home,” Rachman says. Not to mention, a beautifully designed throw, or a blanket basket at the end of a bed can add an extra element of design that can benefit the entire room.

Invest in light-blocking shades

Design by Linda Hayslett / Photography by Lauren Pressey

Ensuring your guests can sleep comfortably during their stay is a crucial part of hosting—and nothing quite says “sleep well” like blackout curtains. These can be especially helpful for guests who are visiting from different time zones or just need to take mid-day naps to break up their activity-filled days. Linda Hayslett of LH.Designs added these light-blocking shades to an L.A. guest suite along with a cozy reading nook.

Give guests multiple lighting options


Guest bedroom lighting should accomplish functional needs, while also making the space warm and comforting, says Sheva Knopfler, decor expert and co-founder of Lights.com. To accomplish this, make sure to have a bright primary light—so that guests don’t feel like they’re staying in the dim, forgotten spare room—and table or floor lamps to allow guests lower-light options when they want them. Just make sure to pay attention to the color temperature of each light around the room, Knopfler says, so you don’t end up with a mismatched lighting environment.

Give them some work space

HCO Interiors/ Rebecca McAlpin

Not every room has enough space to add additional sitting, but if yours does, consider adding a desk to the mix like HCO Interiors did here. This is especially important now that so many people are working remotely. If guests come to stay for a bit and need a few work hours, they’ll be less stressed having a designated space to work instead of trying to find a quiet moment around your kitchen island. Make sure to supply anything else they might need like paper, pens, and a nearby outlet for computer charging.

Add playful wallpaper

Courtesy of Erin Wheeler

Decorating an accent wall (or multiple) with a playful wallpaper is a fast way to make a guest bedroom look well thought-out. We love this gallery-wall inspired wallpaper used by Erin Wheeler, designer and stylist behind the website Sunny Circle Studio, in her North Carolina home. The addition of vintage artwork on top gives even more depth and personality to the space.

Choose a calming, all-over color

Fariha Nasir

We love the idea of going bold in a guest room, but some people prefer to take the opposite approach—understandably! A soft paint color can quickly transform a guest bedroom into a dreamy destination. Along with beadboard and box molding, Houston-based design blogger Fariha Nasir of Pennies for a Fortune revamped her guest bedroom with an all-over shade of warm, rosy pink.

Create a multi-purpose hangout space


While a guest bedroom should be a cozy place for visitors, it’s better yet if you can get use out of it for all time when it’s unoccupied throughout the year. That was the goal for architect Amanda Gunawan, the founding principal at OWIU (The Only Way Is Up), when she redesigned this Los Angeles loft. The design features a hidden futon that can be pulled out when visitors come, and stored away when guests aren’t around to make room to use the space as a hangout spot.

Work with what you’ve got

Design by Sarah Sherman Samuel / Photography by Nicole Franzen

The basement is a common location for guest bedrooms, and it’s easy to feel uninspired when trying to imagine the space as warm and inviting. Interior designer Sarah Sherman Samuel accomplished this tricky feat when she revamped her outdated, faux-wood paneled basement room into a cozy space for guests. Rather than abandoning the concept altogether, she modernized it, by installing new wood floors and bringing the wood up three-fourths of the wall behind the bed, using natural attributes as an inviting design element.

Use a cool stool if you’re tight on space

The Inside by Havenly

Nightstands can eat up a lot of space unfortunately, but you can still give your guests a spot to rest their items with a design-forward stool, like in this example from The Inside by Havenly. The wood tone of the bobbin leg stool perfectly complements the rust-colored, arched headboard.

Add a pretty carafe

Jacqui Turk (@jacqui_turk); Design by Caitlin Parker-Brown

Guests might get thirsty in the middle of the night—help them stay cozy in bed (and avoid having them bump around in the wee hours) by setting up a carafe of water nearby. A simple, chic glass bottle will even do the job. Layer in some beautiful ceramic pieces to really elevate the nightstand surface, like how Caitlin Parker-Brown of Parker Studio did in her own bedroom shown here.

Hang soothing art


Art can really set the tone for a space, and you want to make sure that a guest room feels calm and relaxing with the decorative accents you choose. New Orleans-based designer Dabito, hung abstract pieces in muted shades from Minted on the pale, pinky-beige walls of a client’s room, which you can learn more about in his book Old Brand New. Subtle, abstract pieces are typically very easy on the eyes and not visually distracting—excellent for guests who want to unwind at the end of the day.

Install an actually-nice-looking Murphy bed

Bre Bertolini of Brepurposed

Murphy beds traditionally aren’t super cozy or inviting to overnight guests, but pretty, nice ones do exist, and they’re a great solution for those of us who don’t have a bedroom to spare. We ogled over this one by Bre Bertolini of Brepurposed, which we couldn’t believe she DIY’ed using a Murphy bed kit! When it’s closed up, it looks like a beautiful armoire with cane doors. When it’s unfolded, you get a glimpse of the delicate floral wallpaper lining the back, which really makes it feel even more special for guests.

Weave in local touches

Victoria Ford of PrepfordWife

If you want to inject charm into a guest room so it feels more welcoming, incorporate accents that pay homage to the area. For example, a guest room in a Southwestern home could have little cactus plants and terracotta vases. Or you could even go simpler! Victoria Ford (@prepfordwife) hung a Raleigh flag over a headboard in her last home in Raleigh, North Carolina. While this was her primary bedroom, we think it’s a great, easy idea to work into a guest room!

Add lots of hooks

Megan Schlachtenhaufen of Undecorated Home

You know what helps a guest room feel cozy and inviting? A place to store and hang everything. Helping guests stay organized while they’re in your home will create a sense of ease for them. We love the idea of installing hooks if you’re tight on space, like here in Megan Schlachtenhaufen’s bedroom, so they can hang their bags, coats, and more.

Opt for cushy storage


An upholstered bench is the way to go if you’re looking to incorporate more storage into a guest room but also want to keep it feeling cozy. This chic one from CB2 is cushy so folks can have a stable-but-comfy seat to tie shoelaces, and it has plenty of storage space in its 60-inch by 20-inch interior for holding handbags and whatever miscellaneous gear guests travel with.

Plug in a phone charger

Amber Guyton of Blessed Little Bungalow

Phone chargers in a guest room are a thoughtful detail that’s easy to forget! However, they can make a huge difference in a guest’s comfort and will help them feel settled in. Atlanta-based designer Amber Guyton of Blessed Little Bungalow smartly snuck this dual charger (which powers up an iPhone and an Apple Watch) into the design of this beautiful room she created for a client.

Fill up the nightstand with basics

Cass Smith of CassMakesHome

An alarm clock, in addition to other things like tissues and some reading material, on the nightstand will help guests feel at home, which is exactly how Cass Smith of CassMakesHome outfitted this side table. A retro clock, like the one she chose, will add more character to a space, and a bud vase with some greenery gives peaceful, calming vibes.

Set up towels and toiletries

Jessica Glynn for HW Interiors

If you have a guest bathroom, or even if you’re all sharing one, don’t forget to add extra towels and travel-size toiletries for your guests! We love the idea of corralling supplies in a basket and rolling up towels the way Florida-based designer Heather Weisz of HW Interiors does here in this stunning powder room she designed.

Put a rug down

Far Studio/ Brian Wetzel

Nobody likes the feeling of their toes hitting a cold floor in the morning! Just as you’d layer in lots of texture on the bed, make sure your floors have something soft and alluring. Here, Far Studio added a higher pile knotted rug to this space, which will feel great underfoot and also ties in the tones and textures from the bed and curtains.

Paint the ceiling

Alexandra Gater

A painted ceiling is fun, unexpected, and cozy. Especially when it’s done in a warm tone like Alexandra Gater did here. And why a guest room? It’s the perfect place to take a design risk. Think about it, it’s not something people see every day, so it’s a space you can really try new things with. Adding a pop of color to the fifth wall will definitely make a statement and be something your guests will remember.

Add a full-length mirror

Photo: Molly Culver

There’s nothing worse than having to trek to a different room to check out your fit! (Well, there are definitely things that are worse than that but it’s still a pain.) Give guests a full-length mirror so they can primp in peace each morning. If you don’t have a ton of wall space, you can add one to the door like the team at BANDD/Design. If you don’t want to drill, pick out an over-the-door option.

Use double-duty furniture

Photo: Kirsten Frances

Transitional furniture is always a good idea, but this is especially true for rooms that have multiple purposes. Isy’s Interiors was tasked with creating a guest room that also functions as a den when no one is staying over. She added a storage ottoman (similar to this one), to seamlessly hide pillows and blankets for guests while also serving as a foot stool for those lounging on the couch.

Provide books

Tim Lenz

When you’re hosting someone, you’re taking them out of their element and typical nighttime routine, so it’s thoughtful to give them access to some familiar things. Since many people like to read before bed (but may not have a new book with them) stash some of your own favorite reads by the bedside for them to borrow and peruse, like in this cozy guest space designed by MK Worshop. Bonus points if you leave a little note on the book(s) telling your guest why you think they’ll love it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *